Boris Berman has had a long and distinguished career as a concert pianist, teacher and author. Many will remember his impeccable performances with orchestras around the globe, as well as his recordings of numerous solo piano works. He is most certainly a performer who projects a technical prowess within the gentle curves of the heart and, as such, late music by Haydn and Schubert suits him very well.
Perhaps it is only fitting for a performer of that calibre to revisit, at some point in their career, the music that seems simple in structure and expression yet complex in nature. The pairing of late sonatas by Haydn (E-flat Major No.62 and D Major No.61) and Schubert (the “grand” Sonata in A Major D959) is simply wonderful. These two composers shared a similar structural architecture, rarely wrote flamboyant music and often left plenty of interpretative choices to the performers. Berman takes full advantage of it and is very successful in finding and bringing out commonalities, especially the splendid elegance of the phrases. On the other hand, he is equally brilliant in underlining the emotional restraint of Haydn versus the deep emotions of Schubert, without losing sight of the form and intentions of the composers.
To me Berman’s playing feels like a narration of the story, and this narrator knows all the secrets behind the scenes.